Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Middle class majboori(mazdoori)

Mumbaikars are actively celebrating the HC order which put brakes on the indiscriminate conversion of mill lands into swanky high rises and malls that hoped to convert Mumbai into Shanghai. Unfortunately the pictures of Shanghai that our Government had seen, only had the tall buildings but not the infrastructure in terms of water, sanitation and roads below it. But even in the HC ruling, 1/3 of mill land can be used for low cost housing by MHADA which is good for the lower classes, 1/3 can be developed into apartments for the rich ( at Rs.9000 to 12000 psf at current market rates) and as usual the middle class gets the rest which is reserved for "open space" where they can have the customary bhel puri on a weekend outing. Thats what the middle class usually gets in this megapolis :the short shrift .
The lower classes have the support of goons and vote-bank politics (the two factors have a 0.8 correlation) and the upper class have the support of money and connections ( again a 0.9 correlation) . What does the middle class have bad governance and 35% taxes. ( what should have been a 0.7 negative correlation).
The middle class has nowhere to go and no messiah apart from the economics of P Chidambaram whose 8% growth rate ensures a basic standard of living. Yes one does feel like canned sardine while travelling in the train, valets scorn at your old Marutis while parking, the Good Knight mosquito mats is the biggest household expenditure rather than milk, hearing dhinchak music in the auto is good recreation and so on. What can you do if only the poor and rich can afford places to stay close to your place of work?
The middle class has some silver lining.Like the cathartic experience of getting 1 kg free of sugar with 5 kg atta at Big Bazaar and other such freebies at malls that redeems the flashback images of the friendly neighbourhood bania cheating you with magnets attached to weighing scales. The saas-bahu serials which continue to redeem their faith on the maxim that Good will win over evil. Its another matter that the same middle class will bribe God with Rs.5 at the hundi rather than pay a bribe to the contractor to get things done.
The other wonderful thing about middle class behaviour is that their tastes are driven by economics rather than attitude. Its not that middle class mothers are anti-fashion, they are against " higher prices for less cloth". They watch more Hindi movies as it is more paisa vasoool for a Rs.100 ticket since you get to see 3 hrs rather than 1.5 hrs in case of an English movie. But now serials like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai have started poking fun at such middle-class habits their USP.
Thus the middle class has no place to hide except for his 600 sq.ft paradise in North Mumbai hoping to catch some sleep before catching the 8:20 local next day after a small prayer to Lord Ganesh.


At 11:39 PM, Blogger ecophilo said...

Yes, you are right. The middle class is right in the middle of a vice like grip that keeps squeezing the life out of them. The poor can steal electricity and so do the rich, while we endure power cuts. The poor are not taxed, rich traders and farmers evade them, while we pay 35%.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Nandya said...

quite an interesting post...and a couple of things made lot of sense...but then again the middle class is widely again subdivided into the Lower middle class, middle( this is a little out there) and ofcourse the upper middle class...and ur post seems to refer to the lower and possibly some strata of the middle middle class ...LOl...


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